1 THE WORD that came to Jeremiah from the Lord when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms of the earth under his dominion and all the people were fighting against Jerusalem and all of its cities:
2 Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him, Thus says the Lord: Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it with fire.
3 And you will not escape out of his hand but will surely be taken and delivered into his hand; you will see the king of Babylon eye to eye, and he will speak with you face to face; and you will go to Babylon.
4 Yet hear the word of the Lord, O Zedekiah king of Judah! Thus says the Lord concerning you: You shall not die by the sword;
5 But you shall die in peace. And as with the burnings of [spices and perfumes on wood that were granted as suitable for and in honor of] your fathers, the former kings who were before you, so shall a burning be made for you; and [people] shall lament for you, saying, Alas, lord! For I have spoken the word, says the Lord.
6 Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah, in Jerusalem,
7 When the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and against all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish and Azekah, for these were the only fortified cities remaining of the cities of Judah.
8 [This is] the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people who were at Jerusalem to proclaim liberty to them:
9 Every man should let his Hebrew slaves, male and female, go free, so that no one should make a slave of a Jew, his brother.
10 And all the princes and all the people obeyed, who had entered into the covenant that everyone would let his manservant and his maidservant go free, so that none should make bondmen of them any more; they obeyed, and let them go.
11 But afterward they turned around and caused the servants and the handmaids whom they had let go free to return [to their former masters] and brought them into subjection for servants and for handmaids.
12 Therefore the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,
13 Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, saying,
14 At the end of seven years you shall let every man his brother who is a Hebrew go free who has sold himself or has been sold to you and has served you six years; but your fathers did not listen to and obey Me or incline their ear [submitting and consenting to Me]. [Deut. 15:12.]
15 And you recently turned around and repented, doing what was right in My sight by proclaiming liberty each one to his neighbor [who was his bond servant]; and you made a covenant or pledge before Me in the house which is called by My Name.
16 But then you turned around and defiled My name; each of you caused to return to you your servants, male and female, whom you had set free as they might desire; and you brought them into subjection again to be your slaves.
17 Therefore thus says the Lord: You have not listened to Me and obeyed Me in proclaiming liberty each one to his brother and neighbor. Behold, I proclaim to you liberty–to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine, says the Lord; and I will make you to be tossed to and fro and to be a horror among all the kingdoms of the earth!
18 And the men who have transgressed My covenant, who have not kept the terms of the covenant or solemn pledge which they had made before Me, I will make them [like] the [sacrificial] calf which they cut in two and then passed between its separated parts [solemnizing their pledge to Me]–I will make those men the calf! [Gen. 15:9, 10, 17.]
19 The princes of Judah, the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf,
20 I will give them into the hands of their enemies and into the hands of those who seek their life. And their dead bodies will be food for the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the earth.
21 And Zedekiah king of Judah and his princes will I give into the hands of their enemies and into the hands of those who seek their life, and into the hand of the king of Babylon's army which has withdrawn from you.
22 Behold, I will command, says the Lord, and cause them [the Chaldeans] to return to this city; and they shall fight against it and take it and burn it with fire. I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without inhabitant.